My favorite roguelike where you can grant a chair the gift of sentience just got a UI update that makes it far more approachable

Caves of Qud is great. Like, "you can be a four-armed, winged gorilla man with a monofilament sword and unfortunate nearsightedness"-level great. It's a roguelike that delivers procedurally generated delight on par with Dwarf Fortress (a quick glance at the review will tell you that's one of the highest compliments I can give). But like Dwarf Fortress, Caves of Qud has suffered from a near-impenetrable interface—until now.

The main highlight of the Spring Molting update, arriving today, is a complete UI replacement. Almost every menu and interface element has been redesigned. In a victory for my long-suffering wrists, the entire game can now be navigated entirely with a mouse or gamepad, instead of just with keys. At last, Qud features more wandering across mutant-wracked, salt-blasted wastes and less wondering how you even look at your character sheet.

(Image credit: Freehold Games)

If you haven't played Caves of Qud, 1) you're missing out, and 2) you should watch the Spring Molting update trailer for a quick sense of just how much work has gone into the game refresh. Seriously. The before and after comparisons might as well be from two different games. I mean, the new, graphical equipment screen dynamically maps to your character's body layout—no matter how many limbs your psychic crab person may gain and/or lose! I hope you're clapping with at least three of your hands.

There's a pile of other updates, too. Psionic assailants and interdimensional horrors of all kinds have gotten new visual and sound effects for their abilities. Joppa, the game's tutorial village, has been improved with new NPC dialog and quest signposting, making it both easier to navigate for new players and a little more flavorful.

I've been playing the beta versions of a lot of the Spring Molting update's features for a few weeks, and it's genuinely impressive how much simpler it is to get in, make a cyborg with robot fingers that let him shoot pistols faster, and get killed in the salt desert by fire-breathing sky snakes. To experience that for yourself, you can find Caves of Qud in early access on Steam. Qud's due to release in 1.0 later this year.

Lincoln Carpenter

Lincoln spent his formative years in World of Warcraft, and hopes to someday recover from the experience. Having earned a Creative Writing degree by convincing professors to accept his papers about Dwarf Fortress, he leverages that expertise in his most important work: judging a video game’s lore purely on the quality of its proper nouns. With writing at Waypoint and Fanbyte, Lincoln started freelancing for PC Gamer in Fall of 2021, and will take any excuse to insist that games are storytelling toolkits—whether we’re shaping those stories for ourselves, or sharing them with others. Or to gush about Monster Hunter.